Iran do Espírito Santo has over the years managed to become one of the most fascinating contemporary artists not just in Brazil, but in the world as well. Today, he is primarily celebrated for his minimalist projects that cover issues of design, place, surface, structure and material. By using abstracted day-to-day objects, his installations assume a delicate mutiny of minimalism. As a result, Santo is often concerned with the tactile features of his chosen subjects and materials. Working with different mediums such as copper, steel, paint and stone, his work emphasizes the sleekness of surfaces and forms of manufactured goods to seduce audiences all over the world.
This installation by Anish Kapoor is a depiction of the fluidity and motion of water as a liquid mass and the void into which it descends. Descension is an impressive sculpture that depicts water’s continuous swirling motion as it rushes down an 8m (26-ft) diameter vortex representing a powerful physical form that is sucked into the earth. This art piece induces a mesmerized feeling in the audience when viewing the perpetual black water being pulled down into an unknown interior. Descension also induces a visceral feeling like the center is an abyss that seems bottomless and which sucks the water that spins into a vortex as it descends into this abyss. As such, the installation conveys different meanings and feelings based on the viewer’s own experiences. For instance, while some may view it as a transience of humanity’s existence, to others, it looks like a portal into a different world or even, a window into the past or future.
“Officially its name is L.O.V.E. – so it stands for love – but everyone can read between the lines and take away the message they see for themselves.”
– Maurizio Cattelan
If you stroll into Milan’s Piazza degli Affari, you are bound to feast your eyes on a shocking sight: A 4 to 5 meters high marble sculpture of a veiny hand giving its beholders the middle finger. The middle finger is placed on a 7 m base. The display of the fascist salute has a twist though, all the other fingers have been chopped off to leave the middle finger, considered an obscene offensive gesture. The sculpture by Maurizio Cattelan is right in front of the fascist-styled Palazzo Mezzanotte, the Italian stock exchange building. To many people, it seems to flip it off.
There’s no tinge of doubt that Apichatpong Weerasethakul is one of the most prolific contemporary Thai artists of our time. He’s the main feature in Tokyo’s boutique art gallery, the SCAI the Bathhouse. Apichatpong’s very popular works like Blissfully Yours (2002), Tropical Malady (2003), Power Boy (2009), Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2009), the Fireworks (2015), and The Serenity of Madness (2016) catapulted him into limelight in the global art stage.
The lead up to He Xie (Crabs) – 河蟹
Artist Ai Weiwei, it seems, is always surrounded by controversy whether it is in relation to his visual masterpieces or his activism. Mr. Ai’s run-ins with the Chinese government have continued to border on dangerous but the revered artist is always willing to include these elements in his performance art. In 2010, Ai ran into the Chinese police in an unfortunate encounter whereby the local government tore down a large new studio that Ai had built in Shanghai as a result of ‘code violations’.
Before the studio was demolished, Ai hosted a dinner at the Shanghai studio, which he was barred by the government from attending, as a satirical nod to the studio’s planned destruction by the administration. The dinner was characterized by one of Ai’s most talked about installations- He Xie (crabs).
Jun Ong – Star, 2015, 500m steel cables, LED strips, Penang, Malaysia
The star is set at the core of an unfinished concrete building that spans all five floors from the ground to the roof. It forms a 12-sided polygon also called a dodecahedron in 3D, which is visible from several kilometers away. The light installation blazes in white light encompassing the whole building, but it seems like a bright floating star when seen from afar.